< News & Insights
/ April, 2019
Here’s how you can be part of the sustainability movement in Barcelona
Girl enjoying the outdoors.

I’ve been living in Barcelona for four months now, and I think one of the most inspiring aspects of Barcelona is its commitment to sustainability.

From Mescladís, a cafe that provides labor training for migrants, to Humana, a vibrant second-hand shop that supports sustainability endeavors in the Global South, there are many businesses in Barcelona dedicated to addressing social and environmental issues.

Surrounded by innovation, I have started thinking about what I can do to live more sustainably. However, change is always greater when its accomplished by a community of passionate individuals. I hope others may read these ideas and be inspired to collaborate with their community and continue making Barcelona a great place to live.

Sustainable activities to share with your friends

Since I’ve been doing an internship with Sharify, a company that has developed an event sharing app for Barcelona, I have seen firsthand how effective social media can be at bringing people together. Sharify, in particular, has made it easier for people to organize events and access an extensive and active community of people in Barcelona.

Perhaps you also will use Sharify to meet new friends and engage in a sustainable community project. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Green activities to share with your friends

1. Visit an urban garden

Woman visiting sustainable garden.

Barcelona’s Department of Environment supports a community garden project in which urban gardens are developed and maintained throughout the city. Although the volunteer opportunities are aimed toward adults over 65, visiting the gardens is still a good way to support your community.

One of the primary goals of these gardens is to prevent older adults from feeling socially isolated, and offer them an opportunity to be involved in a local environmental initiative. Visiting the gardens is a good way to perhaps meet the gardeners, or enjoy their vibrant creations.

Either way, you are showing support for a local environmental initiative and for a project with a positive social component. 🙂

You can find the locations of urban gardens in Barcelona here.

2. Organize a beach cleanup

How to do a beach cleanup.

Barcelona is home to several beautiful public beaches, and each year millions enjoy the surf and the sand. All this activity, however, can cause litter to build up on the beaches and make its way into the ocean.

Litter can be extremely damaging to marine habitats, and can present health risks to marine organisms. It’s important that we support health marine habitats, for the Mediterranean provides so much in terms of food, employment, and enjoyment.

Want to do a good deed outside in the fresh air? Organize a beach cleanup–spend an afternoon picking up trash along the shore and on the boardwalk. Remember, it’s quite easy for litter to to be transferred from the boardwalk into the ocean!

3. Do a green art project

Sharing sustainable art projects with friends.

Do you enjoy arts and crafts, but you’re on a budget? You’re in luck, there are plenty of inexpensive crafts you can do with your friends using recycled materials and other sustainable methods.

Green art projects are a great way not to waste the micellaneous items that build up in your house or apartment. Here are some items you should consider saving, that might come in handy:

  1. aluminum cans
  2. plastic containers
  3. old flooring planks
  4. damaged books
  5. paper towel and toilet paper rolls
  6. wine corks
  7. old magazines or newspapers
  8. bottle caps
  9. old sauce jars

With these household objects, you can make a plethora of fun and handy crafts. For example:

  1. glass maison jar —-> summer lantern
  2. old plastic —-> new plant pot
  3. simple can —-> decorative centerpiece
  4. damaged book —-> invisible money safe

Here are instructions for these crafts, and many more!

4. Collect old clothes to donate

Recycling old clothes is a good way to support sustainability.

Did you know the average American throws aways 81 pounds of clothes each year? That’s a LOT of waste. It’s not just an American problem, however. Many people, especially in the West, have gotten used to the quick seasonal turnaround retailers like H&M and Zara create. Because these retailers provide so many styles at a relatively cheap price, many people buy tons of clothes, and toss what they don’t want anymore.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Spain already has one of the highest recycling rates in the world, so let’s make sure we are recycling clothes, too. There is always a place for old clothes–whether it’s a recycling bin or a donation bin.

Here are some green ways to get rid of old clothes:

  1. Donate to the Roba Amiga Program. Sponsored by the local municipal government, this program distributes clothes to families in need. There are donation locations all over the city.
  2. Donate to Humana, a nonprofit that recycles 36% of its clothes, donates 38% to African countries, sells 13% in fun thrift stores found all over the world, and disposes the remaining unusable clothes in responsible ways. You can donate at any Humana store in Barcelona.

5. As always, recycle 🙂

Don't forget to recycle.

Everyone knows recycling is important, but sometimes it’s difficult to know what you are supposed to recycle, and where to do it. Perhaps you’re new to the city, or maybe you’ve just never figured out all the recycling routes. Either way, here’s some tips:

Barcelona has an extensive waste management system. There are waste bins located throughout the city for recycling different materials:

  • Green = glass
  • Blue = paper and cardboard
  • Brown = organic waste
  • Find instructions for how to dispose or recycle other items here.